‘Day Zero’ has moved to June 4 due to the continued decline in agricultural usage and the decrease in residential water consumption. Over the past week, usage has been lowered to 526 million litres per day. This is the first time that the weekly average usage has remained under 550 million litres.
In a statement, the City of Cape Town said, “Two years ago water usage was more than one billion litres per day, resulting in a weekly change of 2,1%. If our dam levels were currently dropping at this rate we would reach ‘Day Zero’ before the end of March. Our dam levels declined by just 0,6% over the past week.”
This re-emphasises Wesgro’s message to the tourism industry – Cape Town is open for business.
The organisation said in a statement: “Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business, and ready to welcome visitors. We need tourism now more than ever, as we aim to keep our economy growing and create jobs during this challenging drought. This is critical. International press coverage of the drought, and the prospects of ‘Day Zero’, have caused anxiety amongst foreign travellers. We have received concerned calls from the tourism trade, as travellers’ question whether they should visit Cape Town now, and even book for it in the future.”
One of the key concerns noted by potential tourists who are considering Cape Town is that they would make the situation water worse if they visited the region. Wesgro believes that this is not only incorrect, but that the opposite is true. This is why:
- During peak season, international tourists only add 1% to the population of the entire Western Cape province on average. These tourists on average only spend a few days in Cape Town, and then travel to other parts of the province, and then up north to attractions such as the Kruger National Park.
- The tourism industry has led the way in reducing the consumption of water by tourists, ensuring that each tourist ‘saves like a local’. Tsogo Sun, the largest hotel group in the Cape, has cut its consumption of water by 40%.
- Despite this extremely small addition to the population size, tourism supported 206 000 direct jobs, 55 763 indirect jobs and 56 243 induced jobs. Therefore in total, tourism supports over 300 000 jobs across the Western Cape.
- As a result of these visitors, R38 billion (€2.6 billion) was added to the Cape economy in 2017. If one calculates foreign direct spend by visitors, visitors spent R9.9 billion (€670 million) in the Western Cape in the first half of 2017 alone.
- The drought has had a devastating impact on the agricultural sector since last year. Thousands of jobs have already been lost. Tourism can assist in shouldering this impact especially in the smaller towns. Wesgro says: “If we encourage tourism during this time, and highlight the many attractions that exist across our beautiful province, we can continue to stimulate growth in the Cape.”
Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said: “The numbers are clear. Visitors add enormous value to our province, even when they make up a tiny proportion of the population. They sustain livelihoods, and they stimulate growth even during challenging economic times. We want to let visitors know that you are most welcome, but when you visit, be mindful of the drought and help us save water. If we work together in this way, we can avoid Day Zero, maintain our economy, and continue to support and create jobs across the Cape and South Africa.”